The School of OT presents the 18th Kelly Bang Memorial Lectureship – Dalhousie University

October 20, 2021

Advocacy as community – Reflections and lessons learned as an Indigenous occupational therapist

Before entering occupational therapy, Kaarina Valavaara spent a year in an Indigenous youth internship program in the British Columbia Public Service where she was surrounded by amazing Indigenous leaders and mentors who instilled in her the importance of using her privilege in education to serve their communities. “I know many Indigenous Peoples do not have the ability to complete post-secondary education, including graduate-level training, so I have always felt a sense of responsibility to use that education in a way that benefits Indigenous communities,” she says.

As a student at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, she joined the Occupational Therapy and Indigenous Health Network where she says at the time, “I was the only self-identified Indigenous student and didn’t always see my experience reflected in the curriculum.”  She found a sense of purpose in connecting with other OTs interested in Indigenous Peoples’ health and found some amazing mentors who continually pushed her outside of her comfort zone to participate in presentations, publications, and advocacy efforts.

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